What is A Course in Miracles?

Q: What, exactly, is A Course in Miracles?

A Course in Miracles is a spiritual path in the form of a book. Its purpose is to train us to work miracles—to accept and extend to others the healed perception that awakens us to God. The Course consists of three volumes (usually bound together in one book), which follow the model of a college course. The three volumes are the Text, the Workbook, and the Manual for Teachers.

The Text gives the theoretical foundation of the Course's thought system, which is essential to make the exercises of the Workbook meaningful. The Workbook, in 365 daily lessons, trains the mind in how to think along the lines the Text sets forth. Based on the Text, it emphasizes experience through practical application. The Manual for Teachers gives instruction for those who have studied the Text and completed the Workbook and are ready to deepen their learning by extending it to others—in other words, those who are ready to become full-fledged miracle workers. While this extension can take many forms, the Manual discusses two forms in particular: 1) a teacher of the Course who extends the Course to pupils through his or her thoughts, words, and example (a kind of Course mentor), and 2) a Course-based healer who extends healing to patients.

For more on this question, see the page on this website entitled What Is A Course in Miracles? If you would like to order a copy of A Course in Miracles, there are four formats to choose from: the original edition hardcover, softcover, or the mass market paperback version.

Q: What is a miracle?

In traditional usage, the term "miracle" refers to a divine healing of the physical world or the body, in which the normal physical laws are momentarily suspended. In Course usage, the term "miracle" refers to a divine healing of human perception, in which the "laws" that normally govern ego-based thinking are momentarily suspended. This healing shifts our perception from the view that others are attackers who deserve condemnation to the view that others are holy children of God who deserve love. This healing is of the mind, but can also lead to healing of the physical world and the body. The primary definition of "miracle" in the Course is the extension of healed perception from one mind to another.

For more information, see the entry for "miracle" in Robert Perry's ACIM Glossary. If you want to learn more about miracles, you may also want to order Robert Perry and Allen Watson's book entitled The Answer Is a Miracle

Q: Why is it called "A Course in Miracles"?

In short, because it is a course whose purpose is to train us to be miracle workers. The author chose the title, and began with these words: "This is a course in miracles, please take notes."

The individual words of the title are significant:

A The Course presents a teaching which lights a pathway for returning to God. It does not claim to be the only pathway. Other spiritual paths, in the view of the Course, all lead to the same goal of awakening to God, each in their own unique way. "All such attempts will ultimately succeed because of their purpose" (T-18.VII.5:9).

Course The course presents a course of study, practice, and extension designed to enable its students to work miracles. As a course it is meant to be "taken" in a rigorous and committed manner, just as one would take any course one wants to pass. Another term for "course" is "path"; this course presents a path to God.

in Miracles As mentioned in the answer to the previous question, the primary definition of "miracle" in the Course is the extension of healed perception from one mind to another. This is a course that teaches us how to work such miracles: to be miracle workers who extend healed perception to miracle receivers.

Q: What are the benefits of taking the Course?

The Course promises that countless benefits will result from walking its path, benefits it often portrays as gifts from God's infinite treasure house. Among those gifts are the following:

  • The gift of a deep and profound sense of inner peace
  • The gift of releasing our grievances through forgiveness
  • The gift of relationships transformed from contentious war zones into truly holy relationships
  • The gift of frequent holy instants, spiritual experiences in which we temporarily enter a boundless realm of peace, joy, and love
  • The gift of receiving guidance from the Holy Spirit for all the decisions of our lives
  • The gift of finding our special function, the particular role God has for us in the world
  • The gift of giving to others, of being truly helpful to other people
  • The gift of days filled with happiness.
  • Finally, the indescribable gift of awakening fully to the awareness of God and our true home in Heaven

One of the benefits in the above list is the holy instant. The following is a description of a holy instant that one Course student had in an encounter with a woman whom, under normal circumstances, he held unkind judgments against. (It is excerpted from Robert Perry's book Path of Light: Stepping into Peace with A Course in Miracles.

The thing that struck me right away is that I felt more love/joy in being in [her] presence than I have ever felt before….It was an experience of pure absolute bliss in coming into contact with someone….I felt a love, a sense of love, that surpassed any concept of love that I have experienced on a conscious level. I have been in love, I've had many male/female relationships, and in looking back it was no comparison, because it was so much greater than anything that I had ever experienced. And I said, "this is love."

Q: What is the goal of the Course?

The goal of the Course can be expressed in a number of different ways. The Course's ultimate goal for us is full awakening to the awareness of God. To pave the way to this ultimate goal, the actual learning goal of the Course is the attainment of true perception through forgiveness: the perception of everyone and everything as pure, holy, innocent children of God. One could also say that the goal of the Course is to bless us with gifts of God like those listed in the previous question.

Finally, one could say that the goal of the Course is to produce a particular kind of person: a person whom it calls an "advanced teacher of God" (see Section 4 of the Manual for Teachers). This is someone who has so fully accepted the gifts of God that he or she embodies the character traits of trust, honesty, tolerance, gentleness, joy, defenselessness, generosity, patience, faithfulness, and open-mindedness. In other words, the person the Course aims to produce is a person who is pure goodness, a person who in any time or place would be considered a saint.